As a dietitian, I usually tell people to eat, not drink, their calories. But sometimes a drink can help people have a healthier diet. A homemade smoothie is an example of that. When made with basic ingredients, a smoothie can be a simple and healthy way to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
The trick to a healthy smoothie is to keep the ingredients simple. Fresh or frozen fruits and/or vegetables along with a low sugar liquid or semi-liquid, such as plain almond milk or plain yogurt, is all you need. You don’t need premade frozen smoothie blends. And you don’t need added sugars, including fruit juice or honey, in your smoothie. Rely on ripe fruit to add flavor and sweetness.
Here are some other Smoothie Do’s and Don’ts
Do Mix and Match. Experiment with different combinations of fruits and/or vegetables. Fruits you don’t like to eat alone may taste great when combined with other fruits in a smoothie. For instance, you may not like eating kiwi fruit, but you may love the taste of it when blended with strawberries in a smoothie. Or you may not like fresh spinach, but when blended with fruit, you probably won’t even taste it.
Don’t Pile on the Calories. Purchased smoothies are often very high in calories. But homemade smoothies can also be high in calories. Adding ingredients such as peanut butter, sugary yogurt or honey can quickly boost the calories in a smoothie.
Do Freeze and Use Leftover Fruit. If a certain fruit or vegetable you like is on sale, stock up and freeze the extra amount for smoothies. Or if your bananas are getting too ripe, peel and freeze them. Frozen fruit thickens your smoothie just like ice does so keep some on hand if you like a thicker textured smoothie.
Don’t Buy More Blender Than You Need.There are lots of powerful juicers and blenders out there but some of them cost a small fortune. Most regular blenders can handle frozen fruit and ice. If you’re adding fresh greens, like spinach, they can usually handle that as well. If you plan to use carrots or other tough vegetables, you would need something stronger but make sure you like veggies in your smoothie before making that investment by trying a sample at a smoothie shop.
Don’t Fill Up with Juice. People often use orange juice or other juices in their smoothies but this just adds more sugar to your drink. Fruit already contains sugar so why add more? It’s better to add plain almond or soymilk, or skim milk to your smoothie. I like adding plain almond milk because it adds a little almond flavor and is lower in calories than regular milk. You can even add plain water if you just need some liquid to help blend the fruit together.
Do Consider a Healthy “Booster.” Smoothie shops often have options for “boosters” or “shots” which may be vitamin supplements, wheat grass, etc. For homemade smoothies, you may want to add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, which adds omega-three fatty acids, or a scoop of protein powder, which is good if you’re using the smoothie as a meal replacement. You can also add a little oatmeal to a smoothie which thickens the texture but also adds soluble fiber, keeping you full longer.
Looking for a smoothie recipe? The one in the photo is my Blueberry-Banana Smoothie.
Just combine 1 cup frozen blueberries with 1 banana and 1/2 cup original almond milk.
Blend and enjoy!